1. Home
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Travel insurance guides

Flight delay compensation: What you need to know

You’re ready to set off on your trip, scanning the screen to find your terminal number to be greeted with 'flight delayed'. Those are the two words you don’t want to see when you’re about to embark on an adventure, or an important meeting you might be late for.

However, If you’re delayed for a prolonged period there may be a silver lining in the form of flight compensation.

Two travellers sat fed up after a flight is delayed

 

Can I claim for a delayed flight?

There are flight delay rights in place for situations like these. Depending on the length of your delay you may be eligible to claim flight compensation, which means you won’t have to claim on your travel insurance.

If you’re travelling with an EU airline or from a European airport then, under EU law, the airline may be duty-bound to give you food and drink and provide accommodation if you’re delayed over 2 hours.

Compare travel insurance

Get a quote

 

When can you claim for flight delays?

Claiming compensation for a delayed flight depends on the distance of the flight and the countries it’s flying between.

You may be able to claim for a flight delay if your journey falls under one of the following:

Flight distance Length of delay
Less than 1,500km
2 hours
Over 1,500km (within the EU)
3 hours
1,500km - 3,500km (between EU and non-EU countries)
3 hours
More than 3,500km (between EU and non-EU countries)
4 hours

Source: citizens advice

If this doesn’t apply to your journey and you’re having problems getting compensation then it’s worth checking with your travel insurance provider to see if you can make a claim.

You’re entitled to get compensation if your flight is more than 3 hours late and the airline’s at fault. However, if the delay is out of the airline’s control you’re unlikely to receive compensation.

For example, according to European regulation EC 261/2004, you can’t claim if your flight delay was a result of an extraordinary circumstance, including:

  • Bad weather (thunderstorms, snow, high winds, heavy rain and thick fog)
  • Natural disasters (volcanic ash or hurricane for example)
  • Ill or disruptive passengers
  • Airport staff strikes
  • Bird strike (a collision between the aircraft and a bird or other foreign object)
  • Political circumstances (security risks, terror attacks)

If your flight is delayed for more than 5 hours you can choose not to travel and get a full refund instead.

 

How much compensation can I get for a delayed flight?

The the amount of flight delay compensation you may be eligible for depends on:

  • The flight distance
  • Length of the delay
  • If you’re flying to an EU or non-EU destination.
Delay Flight distance Compensation
3 hours+
Less than 1,500km
250 euros
 
Between 1,500km and 3,500km
400 euros
 
More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport
400 euros
3-4 hours
More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport
300 euros
4 hours+
More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport
600 euros 

You need to contact the airline to claim for a delayed flight. Before you get in touch with the airline’s customer service department it’s helpful to get everything ready:

Have your flight details to hand including booking reference numbers

Prepare what you're going to say. Make it clear what went wrong and exactly what you want from the airline. If you’re unsure then a quick internet search could provide you with professional templates.

Keep a copy of your claim and any messages from the airline in case there are any issues with your flight delay claim.

 

Cancelled flight compensation

If your flight is cancelled then you have the legal right to either a full refund or a replacement flight to your planned destination.

You can claim a refund for your flight at the airport, or apply direct to the airline once you are home. However if you decide to get a replacement flight it’s important  to be aware that your airline is legally obliged to provide:

  • Food and drink
  • Phone calls and emails
  • Accommodation if you are delayed overnight
  • Transport costs between hotels and airports
  • If taking a replacement flight you may also be entitled to compensation.

To be eligible your flight must have been cancelled less than 14 days before departure and delay your arrival by two or more hours. Again your compensation will also vary according to the length of the flight.

The table below shows compensation for flights cancelled less than 7 days before departure: 

Flight distance Departure and arrival times Compensation
Less than 1,500km
Departure - at least 1 hour earlier than booked flight
£110
 
Arrival - up to 2 hours later than booked flight
£110
 
Arrival - at least 2 hours later than booked flight
£220
1,500km to 3,500km
Departure - at least 1 hour earlier than booked flight
£175
 
Arrival - up to 3 hours later than booked flight
£175
 
Arrival - at least 3 hours later than booked flight
£350
More than 3,500km
Departure - at least 1 hour earlier than booked flight
£260
 
Arrival - up to 4 hours later than booked flight
£260
 
Arrival - at least 4 hours later than booked flight
£520

For flights cancelled within 7-14 days of departure, the following compensation will apply:

Flight distance Departure and arrival times Compensation
Less than 1,500km
Departure - up to 2 hours earlier than booked flight
£110
 
 
Arrival - up to 2 hours later than booked flight
£110
 
Departure - from 2+ hours earlier than booked flight
£220
 
Arrival - 2+ hours later than booked flight
£220
 
Arrival - 4+ hours later than booked flight
220
1,500km to 3,500km
Departure - up to 2 hours earlier than booked flight
£175
 
Arrival - up to 3 hours later than booked flight 
£175
 
Departure - from 2+ hours earlier than booked flight
£350
 
Arrival - 3 to 4 hours later than booked flight 
£350
 
Arrival - 4+ hours later than booked flight
£350
More than 3,500km
Departure - up to 2 hours earlier than booked flight
£260
 
Arrival - up to 4 hours later than booked flight 
£260
 
Arrival - 4+ hours later than booked flight
£520

Source: Citizens Advice

 

Will Brexit affect EU compensation rules?

The government has said that the same passenger rights will continue to apply once the UK leaves the EU set on 31 January, 2020. Therefore, flight delay compensation rules won’t change, regardless of whether we leave with or without a deal.